Barely 70km from the state capital of Chandigarh, the road to superstition comes with guiding signboards in this part of Punjab. On a link road that leads to villages Saunti and Anniya of Fatehgarh Sahib district, the pilgrimage concludes at a ‘Chamatkari Nalka’, a ‘magic handpump’.
The belief is that its water can cure all your ills, “end all your grief”; and this faith’s strength can be seen in the queues that go up to a kilometre. It’s been only a little over a month that the handpump has grabbed imaginations, but visitors are coming even from as far as Delhi already.
To facilitate these thousands of devotees, there are now bottle-sellers, ice-cream vendors, and volunteers that work with a religious zeal. No information is available on any individual or organisation being behind it yet.
The rationalist group Tarksheel Society has been campaigning against the superstition, but visitors seem to not even bother that there are many versions of how the ‘magic’ started. It only adds to the faithful mystery.